README for SaVi - SATELLITE CONSTELLATION SIMULATION AND VISUALIZATION
$Id: README,v 1.152 2017/06/28 11:22:34 lloydwood Exp $
This README supplied with the SaVi satellite visualization software
contains the following sections:
1. Introduction to SaVi
- SaVi is described and places to obtain the latest SaVi are given.
2. Requirements for SaVi
- SaVi's use of Tcl/Tk is described.
3. SaVi and Geomview
- SaVi's optional use of Geomview for 3D rendering is outlined.
4. Installation instructions for SaVi
- how to make SaVi correctly. You must read and follow this section.
5. Running the SaVi software
- how to launch SaVi with or without Geomview. Read this section.
6. Command-line switches for SaVi
- things that can be selected when launching SaVi.
7. Contributing to SaVi
- notes for programmers.
8. Version history of SaVi
- a brief overview of major developments in SaVi.
9. Acknowledgements for SaVi
- a list of contributors to the SaVi project.
1. INTRODUCTION TO SAVI
SaVi is software written to facilitate the visualization and analysis
of satellite constellations. This software is freely and publically
available. We require that use of any images produced by this software
credits SaVi and The Geometry Center.
A webpage user manual for SaVi is in the manual/ directory.
Lloyd Wood, the current SaVi maintainer, welcomes suggestions,
patches and improvements to SaVi. Lloyd can be contacted at:
See the SaVi webpages:
Support for SaVi is provided via the savi-users mailing list:
SaVi is not a completely polished or finished product.
SaVi is not guaranteed to be fit for any purpose.
Bugs in the SaVi software are still being discovered and addressed.
Users of SaVi are responsible for verifying for themselves that their
simulations are sufficiently accurate to be useful for their purposes.
Known bugs and possible future features of SaVi are discussed
in the textfile BUGS. Please report problems with your use of SaVi
to the savi-users mailing list.
The original authors could be contacted at: email@example.com.
SaVi is originally Copyright (c) 1995-1997 by The Geometry Center.
SaVi is also Copyright (c) 2001-2017 by Lloyd Wood.
See the textfile COPYRIGHT for full details.
2. REQUIREMENTS FOR SAVI
- an ANSI C compiler, e.g. gcc from http://gcc.gnu.org/
- most recently tested and built with gcc 5.4.0.
previously tested with gcc 4.9 back to 4.0, 3.4 to 3.2, and 2.95.
or clang from http://clang.llvm.org/
- tested and builds with clang 3.1.
- Tcl and Tk, from http://www.tcl.tk/
- most recently tested with Tcl/Tk 8.5 releases and ActiveTcl 8.6.4.
Use of the Http package for loading TLEs from the web demands
a minimum of Tcl/Tk 8.0.
Use of the Tk color picker and load/save file dialogs demands
a minimum of Tcl/Tk 7.6/4.2.
Tcl/Tk 8.x gives increased performance, and is recommended.
If an existing installation of Tcl does not include header files,
e.g. /usr/include/tcl.h, you should be able to add these by
installing the tk-devel and tcl-devel packages (Red Hat, Fedora)
or the tcl-dev and tk-dev packages (Debian, Ubuntu).
The savi wrapper script in this directory, and the Makefile_defs_
files in the src/ directory, assume that Tcl/Tk 8.5 are available,
and will need to be edited if other versions are used.
On RedHat/Fedora/CentOS etc. try: sudo yum install tk-devel
On Ubuntu/Debian etc. try: sudo apt-get install tk-dev
SaVi can optionally use, and is far more useful with, these recommended
- Geomview, discussed below,
for three-dimensional animations.
- most recently tested with Geomview 1.9.5.
On Ubuntu/Debian etc. try: sudo apt-get install geomview
- gifsicle, from http://lcdf.org/gifsicle/
for saving animations of satellite coverage.
- most recently tested with LCDF Gifsicle 1.78.
On Ubuntu/Debian etc. try: sudo apt-get install gifsicle
SaVi may also optionally use, but does not in any way require:
- the zlib compression library, from http://www.zlib.net/
for compressing texturemap images sent to Geomview.
- most recently tested with zlib 1.2.11. zlib is most useful with
Geomview. To build with zlib to compress dynamic texturemaps that
are sent to Geomview, edit src/Makefile to remove the -DNO_ZLIB flag.
On RedHat/Fedora/CentOS etc. try: sudo yum install zlib-devel
On Ubuntu/Debian etc. try: sudo apt-get install zlib1g-dev
SaVi has been successfully compiled and run on the following architectures
and unix-like operating systems:
- Intel x86 and PowerPC / Macintosh OS X
(10.11.6, 10.9.5, 10.7.2, 10.6.8, 10.5.8, 10.4.11)
Mac users - you must read the BUGS file! A section there discusses
Mac-specific problems and workarounds for those problems.
- Intel x86 / Windows running Cygwin (most recently tested with 2.8.0,
previously Cygwin 1.7.10 to .29 and 1.5.9-1 to .25-11)
Geomview support demands 32-bit Cygwin, not 64-bit - see BUGS.
Cygwin users - Insight Tcl/Tk 8.4 was replaced by a more conventional
unix port of 8.5 in October 2011. If you are still using Insight and
haven't updated, build with:
instead of cygwin.
- Intel x86 / Windows 10 Anniversary Update
Enable developer mode and install bash, install and run the Xming
web server from http://xming.sf.net and then launch bash and type:
sudo apt-get savi
sudo apt-get geomview
geomview -run savi
- Intel x86 / Linux (Ubuntu 14, 13, 10, 9, 8; CentOS 6.5, Fedora 12;
Red Hat 6.x, 7.x and Enterprise 3.0; Mandrake 9.0; Mandriva One 2010)
Ubuntu users - you must read the instructions in
- Intel x86 / FreeBSD (6.0, 8.1)
- Sun SPARC / Solaris (2.4 and later, 10)
- SGI / Irix5
SaVi is 64-bit clean.
3. SAVI AND GEOMVIEW
SaVi can optionally use Geomview for 3D rendering of Earth and
satellites. Geomview requires a unix-like operating system and
an X Window display.
SaVi can be run either as a stand-alone program, or as an "external
module" for the Geomview program. The latter mode enables
three-dimensional visualization of the satellite constellations,
but also requires Geomview.
Geomview is available from:
On Ubuntu/Debian etc., where these packages are maintained:
sudo apt-get install geomview
sudo apt-get install savi
geomview -run savi
will save you the effort of compiling Geomview or SaVi.
SaVi was most recently tested with Geomview 1.9.5.
The 1.9 releases significantly improve stability, compatibility and
performance over 1.8.1. The latest Geomview release (as of writing,
1.9.5) is strongly recommended for all platforms.
For texture mapping, SaVi can optionally use the zlib compression
library to compress the dynamic coverage texturemaps that are sent to
Geomview. Compile zlib support by removing the -DNO_ZLIB flag from
src/Makefile when compiling SaVi. Texture mapping support requires
OpenGL support in Geomview, and is discussed in further detail in
README-COVERAGE-TEXTUREMAPPING, also accessible from SaVi's Help menu.
Discussion of maintaining and building Geomview on various platforms
can be found in the geomview-users mailing list archives:
Instructions for building Geomview under Microsoft Windows with Cygwin
are available from:
Geomview, like SaVi, was originally available from the Geometry Center:
The Geometry Center was at the University of Minnesota (umn), and
its webserver content is now hosted at the University of Illinois at
Contracted work with Geomview can be undertaken by Geometry Technologies:
4. INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAVI
For the remainder of this file, we shall refer to the directory
originally containing this README file, the root of the SaVi tree,
That is, if you are a user and have unpacked SaVi in your home
directory, then $SAVI would be the topmost SaVi directory
~user/saviX.Y.Z that contains this README file that you are now
reading. This is a shorthand; $SAVI is determined by the
$SAVI/savi script that launches SaVi.
1.) In $SAVI/src/Makefile_defs_ARCH (where ARCH is linux, cygwin,
macosx, sun, freebsd, irix or ubuntu) you may need to edit some
variables to suit your system.
If your system is current with recent versions of Tcl and Tk
installed, and everything is in its usual place, the generic
definitions file, called "Makefile_defs_", may work perfectly,
and typing 'make' in SaVi's topmost directory may be sufficient
to compile the C files in src/ and index the Tcl files in tcl/.
If not, choose the Makefile_defs_ file most suitable for your
- ensure that the variables are set to give the locations
and correct versions of the Tcl/Tk libraries and
header include files.
- ensure that the CC variable is set to an available ANSI C
compiler, e.g. gcc
2.) Return to the topmost SaVi directory $SAVI. Once in that directory,
type e.g. 'make ARCH=linux' (or cygwin, or macosx, or sun, or
freebsd, or irix, or ubuntu) in the topmost $SAVI directory. Typing
just 'make' in the topmost directory will use the default
3.) You may also need to edit the locations of the Tcl and
Tk libraries in $SAVI/savi at the TCL_LIBRARY and TK_LIBRARY lines
when linking dynamically.
If running the savi script to launch SaVi generates Tcl or Tk
errors, it is often because either the TCL_LIBRARY or TK_LIBRARY
lines need to be corrected in that shell wrapper, or because make
was not done using the top-level Makefile in the $SAVI directory.
SaVi needs $SAVI/tcl/tclIndex to run. That tcl/tclIndex file must
be generated by the tcl/Makefile that, like all other subdirectory
Makefiles, is called by the top-level master Makefile in the same
directory as this README file.
4.) SaVi allows binaries for multiple architectures to co-exist on a
shared filesystem, by running the appropriately-named binary:
The most recently compiled executable is also available as:
To save disk space on filesystems used by only one architecture and
avoid messages saying which binary copy was selected to be run, you
can rm bin/SaVi-*.bin, leaving the single bin/SaVi executable. This
has the advantage of displaying just 'SaVi' as the process name.
This is very useful for Mac OS X, where that name is shown in the
5. RUNNING THE SAVI SOFTWARE
As in the previous section, we refer to the directory containing this
README file as $SAVI. Always launch SaVi using the savi script in this
directory. Do not run the binary executable directly.
1.) To run SaVi standalone, without needing Geomview,
in the $SAVI directory type:
Or from any other directory,
where $SAVI is the path of the savi directory.
To load in a satellites tcl scriptfile directly, type:
SaVi supports a number of command-line switches, many related to
use with Geomview. To see these, type:
2.) To run SaVi as a module within Geomview, for 3D rendering,
when in the $SAVI directory start up Geomview:
and then select "SaVi" from Geomview's scrollable list of external
modules, where it will have appeared. Or invoke directly:
geomview -run ./savi [flags] <script filename>
Or from any directory where you can start Geomview, try
geomview -run ./savi [flags] <script filename>
You might invoke a saved one-line script, to pass parameters
through to SaVi:
geomview -run ./savi [always-on flags] $*
To see SaVi listed as an external module in Geomview's main
window whenever Geomview is launched alone, Geomview has to know
where SaVi is and how to launch it. This can be done by reading
from a file called .geomview, and the .geomview file in the savi/
(emodule-define "SaVi" "./savi -geomview")
tells Geomview this whenever geomview is launched with the savi
directory as the working directory. This line can be edited
with the absolute path of the savi start script and copied
into a .geomview configuration file in the geomview/ directory,
or to a .geomview-* configuration file in geomview's modules
directory, as described below, so that SaVi is always accessible
from Geomview even when Geomview is launched by itself.
3.) To make SaVi accessible to other users, you can copy the "savi"
script in $SAVI to some directory in other users' search
paths such as /usr/local/bin, so they needn't add SaVi's own
directory to their own path. If you do, edit the "savi" script,
inserting the full path name of $SAVI as indicated in
the script itself:
# If you copy this script from the SaVi installation and run it
# elsewhere, then you should uncomment the following line:
# and replace /usr/local/savi with the location of
# your SaVi installation.
You can also make SaVi accessible from Geomview's scrollable list
of external modules. Assuming Geomview is installed in
to see a number of files telling Geomview about modules.
These are shown alphabetically in Geomview's External
Create a file here called ".geomview-savi" containing e.g.:
(emodule-define "SaVi" "/usr/local/savi1.5.0/savi -geomview")
where the right-hand side is the absolute path name for the savi
script. The .geomview file can be modified to say e.g.:
(emodule-define "SaVi" "./savi -redrawn-menus -geomview")
with other always-on flags to control SaVi behaviour.
6. COMMAND-LINE SWITCHES FOR SAVI
SaVi supports the following command-line switches and flags when run
standalone. These can be combined, e.g.
geomview -run savi -geomview -large-map -levels -19 -debug $*
turns on debugging output to the terminal. This is useful for
programmers or for output of detailed statistics.
pretends that SaVi is running with Geomview, even when it isn't.
This is useful for debugging.
shows command-line switch help in the terminal.
uses a bigger coverage panel map of 1024x512 pixels, instead of 600x300.
Also defaults to 14 color levels, rather than 4. Useful for larger
displays, and for better texturemapping.
Sets the number of color levels used by the coverage panel map.
n can be from 1 to 19. A large value of n is useful for high-diversity
constellations with overlapping coverage, such as GPS and Galileo.
resizes the coverage panel map to 2n pixels across by n pixels down.
A large height can give slightly better texturemapping in Geomview,
though the coverage panel map outline is not resized. n can be from
8 to 2048, giving map sizes ranging from 16x8 to 4096x2048 pixels.
shifts the map horizontally so that the selected longitude is centred.
zero is the default. The longitude can be from -180 to 180, going from
west to east.
sets an altitude above which coverage footprints are not drawn.
This is useful for simulating satellites in elliptical orbits
whose satellites communicate or take imagery while near perigee.
sets an altitude below which coverage footprints are not drawn.
This is useful for simulating satellites in elliptical orbits whose
satellites communicate while near apogee, e.g. Molnya, Tundra,
Sirius Radio and Ellipso.
chooses the orbital model. J2 is the default, but a simpler Keplerian
J0 can be selected.
changes how SaVi draws its menus to an older method. This is useful
on some versions of Tcl under Mac OS X (particularly 10.5 Leopard).
generates SaVi's about dialog on launch. This dialog is useful
for reporting the version of SaVi and the command-line flags chosen.
reports the version of SaVi and when it was built.
a script for SaVi to run on launch, typically from the savi/data
and when run with Geomview:
passes the unprojected or cylindrical bitmap coverage panel outline
map through to Geomview for texturemapping, instead of drawing
the vector outline map in Geomview.
tells SaVi that it is being run with Geomview, and that it should
pipe commands to Geomview.
uses gzip headers when compressing the texturemaps sent to Geomview,
when SaVi has been built with the zlib library. Only of interest to
disables display of the SaVi logo in the corner of the Geomview camera.
turns on Geomview light sources that attempt to emulate the Sun's
lighting. Lighting appears wrong, so this is disabled by default.
forces sending uncompressed texturemaps to Geomview, when SaVi
has been built with the zlib library. Only of interest to
7. CONTRIBUTING TO SAVI
Contributions and additions to SaVi, particularly those addressing
the issues raised in the BUGS textfile, are welcome - just email
There is also a savi-developers mailing list for discussion:
SaVi's code layout believes that a tab is four spaces. C code uses
an indent of two spaces, while Tcl code uses an indent of four spaces.
8. VERSION HISTORY OF SAVI
1.5.1 Minor bugfixes. Cygwin Tcl/Tk 8.6 compatibility, June 2017.
1.5.0 Coverage gif animations with gifsicle, can load TLEs
from the web. September 2016.
1.4.9 Coverage "Show map" now controls Geomview, removes legacy
disk scratchfile texturemapping method. January 2016.
1.4.8 Bugfixes to new colorful coverage map. Wider support for
Tcl/Tk 8.6. January 2015.
1.4.7 Minor bugfixes. Fisheye geostationary ring and parallels.
New colorful unprojected land/sea coverage map. January 2015.
1.4.6 Minor bugfixes. Cygwin unix Tcl/Tk 8.5 compatibility. May 2013.
1.4.5 Minor bugfixes. Mac ActiveTcl compatibility. April 2011.
1.4.4 Minor bugfixes. Tcl/Tk 8.6b1 compatibility. February 2011.
1.4.3 Minor bugfixes. Better Mac OS X compatibility. December 2009.
1.4.2 Minor bugfixes. February 2009.
1.4.1 Full help system. Fixes to edit dialog problems introduced by
sunlight support. January 2009.
1.4.0 Tk 8.5 and Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) compatibility. Adds satellite
names, sunlight on map, varying (1-19) levels of coverage
shading. Vastly-improved high-performance coverage texturemap
piping to Geomview. Shift- and control-click multiple
satellites in the list. June 2008.
1.3.2 Blending user interface with Mac OS X Aqua and Cygwin
1.3.1 Mac OS X port and gcc 4.0 compatibility.
1.3 Includes all work done for a workshop on satellite applications
and constellations given as a guest lecturer at the
International Space University Summer Session. Students used
SaVi in class exercises, July 2006.
1.2.x These developments bring together a variety of contributions
in a single package, 2001 and onwards.
1.1 Diverse versions with various modifications,
not widely released, 1999.
1.0 First public release of SaVi binaries and source code, 1997.
8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS FOR SAVI
Martin Lo, Polly Estabrook and David Bell at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab inspired the SaVi project.
Patrick Worfolk and Robert Thurman created the SaVi project
while at the Geometry Center, with support from the Geometry Center
technical staff, especially Stuart Levy, Lori Thomson and Nicolas Vera.
Gregory LaCoste contributed coverage interval decay and other code to
the SaVi project.
Claus-Justus Heine contributed assistance with pipes and 64-bit
machines, and made inline texturemap streaming and many other things
possible with his thoughtful additions to Geomview.
Ari Stern contributed assistance with menus and porting to Mac OS X.
Matthias Foehl contributed assistance with file dialogs and Cygwin.
Cliff Anders suggested and supported the fisheye equatorial exclusion zone.
Lloyd Wood has contributed simulations of commercial constellations and
other code significantly enhancing the SaVi project, and maintains SaVi